How To Undertake Responsible Safari Holidays
Safaris have never been as popular as they are now, and with many species of wild animal hovering on the verge of extinction, it seems like everyone is rushing to see them before they vanish. Yet visiting game reserves and national parks on safari does have an impact on the environment, so take precautions before travelling. Here is a guide showing you the way to safari responsibly.
Respect Regional Customs
All too often travellers disregard local customs when travelling out into the wilderness. Ancient rituals and religions, as well as contemporary ways of life, are ignored and trod upon, often without the tourist knowing that they have done anything wrong. So read up about that ancient rock formation before climbing all over it, and take heed not to snap photographs of local villages, where their privacy is as much cherished as yours.
Stick With Local Knowledge
While you may be tempted to stick with tour guides from your own country, the fact is that the bets local knowledge comes from the people who were born and raised near nature reserves. Not only will they take you to the best spots, but they often do so with the utmost respect for the animals you will observing, taking pains not to disturb their activities. By hiring locals you will also be contributing to the national economy, rather than funnelling money out of the country.
Be Environmentally Friendly
If you are out camping in the Serengeti or the Kruger National Park on adventure tours make sure not to leave any rubbish behind, no matter how small. While a ring-pull on a can, or a discarded candy wrapper may not seem like a lot, such items do not biodegradable easily and can be consumed by animals, often with horrendous consequences. And each piece of litter cumulatively builds up until, after a few decades, it seems to be everywhere.
Don’t Raise Your Voice
Though you may find yourself in the rolling savannah miles away from the nearest human, make sure to keep your voice down. Why? Well most wild animals you encounter on a safari naturally shy away from human contact, and the main way they do this is by sound. Your call across to a travelling companion may seem innocent enough, but it may well scare off a herd of zebras a mile or two away. Not only does it disturb their activity, it will decrease your chances of encountering big game up close.
A great way to give something back when on adventure tours to safari parks is to engage with locals and help them out. Whether teaching school kids English in the classroom, or building accommodation and basic infrastructure, you will offset the negative impact of your visit, and perhaps even do some good for the local communities.
Stick to Limited Numbers
While you may be tempted to embark on an epic safari break with a huge group of friends, think again before setting off. Small groups are almost always easier on the environment and put less pressure on precious resources in dry and arid regions. Travelling with a couple of close companions rather than with an entire bus load of pals is the way forward.
Head for the Lesser Known Parks
While the Masai Mara may be groaning under the immense weight of heavy tourist numbers, there are plenty of other safari parks all over the world that remain calm and quiet. Instead of the Serengeti try the Selous Game Reserve, and rather than staying at the Kruger, try out the even wilder and more isolated Mapungubwe National Park on the border with Zimbabwe.
John is a writer who has penned articles for many of the major travel magazines, on themes such as adventure tours in Africa and how to backpack around Europe on the cheap.